Spark Joy or Leave Sh*t Everywhere – Where Are You On The Organizing Spectrum?

After listening to a recent discussion on CBC radio about two very different approaches to organizing,  I felt it would be a fun to explore this topic further. Based on two books, Marie Kondo’s mega bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and Jennifer McCartney’s backlash book, The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place, the show focused on the benefits and pitfalls of organizing following the methods outlined in both books.

For those of you not familiar with Marie Kondo’s book, her method suggests that to be happy we must keep only what “sparks joy” in us, and release everything else. No matter who gave it to you, what you paid for it, what significance it once had, or how sure you are that you’ll fit into it again one day, if it does not bring joy to your life now, it must go. It’s an all or nothing approach. At the other end of the spectrum, Jennifer McCartney’s book  finds evidence to show that being messy gives you freedom to be more creative and less burdened by the stress of “having to clean up all the time.” She argues that the price we pay for trying to be clutter-free is stressing us out big time and that we should leave more sh*t around.

As a professional organizer, I have to admit my bias towards the Marie Kondo end of the spectrum which promotes a systematic method of organizing, sorting, grouping and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. My organizing mind likes to group like with like in order to really see the amount of each item one really has. Only then can we decide what we need and place that in labeled containers, drawers, bins, etc. However, after hearing more about a less structured and more “creative” approach to organizing, I wonder if both approaches do not have a place in the organizing process. The last thing we want to do is create more stress about trying to de-stress through organizing!

Having seen firsthand the numerous benefits of organizing clients’ spaces and belongings in a systematic way, I am partial to not leaving sh*t everywhere. It’s in my nature to find a practical home for everything so that life functions easier. The challenge of doing this for our clients is what motivates us, and why we do what we do! However, we can’t forget that not everyone operates this way, and perhaps some controlled chaos is ok. Perfectionism can be as equally stressful as disorganization! So perhaps there is room for “creative mess”, as long as we know where the mess is, how to manage it, and what function it serves.

Ultimately, professional organizing is about making life easier. It is about having more control over your space and your belongings so that you can enjoy what you really want to enjoy.  Too much or too little organizing structure can be stressful, so finding a suitable place along the organizing spectrum is key.  If you like order, order will serve you well, it will make you happier. If you’ve always operated on the ‘messier” side of things, then leaving things where you know how to find them is good, as long as it makes you feel more in control.

Envisioning how you want to function in your space, with your belongings, takes vision. As professional organizers, we have the ability to see potential and envision an easier way.  So, the next time you’re wondering how to maximize your space and your stuff,  think about where you are on the organizing spectrum and let us know how we can help!

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About the Author

Having caught the organizational bug early on trying to “balance” things out as an elite gymnast, Jessica Tudos brings a diverse set of skills and experiences to her role as a professional organizer.  Drawing from her global work as an experiential educator, author, and motivational speaker, Jessica is on a mission to empower people to lead healthy, creative and organized lives.